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While in the past 10 years or more the yardage held up as being suitable for a "championship" course ranged between 6,000 to 6,500 yards, this year's open championship was decided on a course approximately 7,000 yards long. But all courses can not be "championship" courses, that is, links where championships are decided, for they would be too expensive for the average club.



Good Read: "Masters continues to shine as golf's bright star"

Bob Harig steps back from another compelling week of golf to consider the state of the Masters and what the club is doing with all of the money that flows in. Nearly all of the improvements are outstanding in improving the fan experience, including the tastefully done new Gate 9 entry area (I should have taken photos early in the week when cameras were permitted...sorry!).

There was this from Chairman Payne's press conference about loaning the city money to help move along the city desire (eh-em) to move Berckman's Road, which should open up the opportunity to re-imagine the main fan entry and maybe even impact the 5th hole's tee shot.

"It's no secret; we have significant economic success," Payne said. "And if in the case of the city [of Augusta], it being their decision to relocate the road; and once that decision was made, we were of course anxious for it to begin because it improves the traffic flow dealing with our tournament.

"So we kind of told them, don't worry about the money, that we will advance it, loan it to you, and so it helps us because the road gets built more quickly."

Think about that. A golf club lending money to city government.

What does it all mean? Well, simply, the Masters and Augusta National are a unique sporting experience. And while big-money is the rage in all of sport, the people there put it back into the game and their tournament.

Many of you have asked what Berckman's Place looks like. The $6000-7500 enclave (depending on what Bode Miller and his quesadilla say) is not accessible to the media, perhaps because of its rather un-Masters-like emphasis on conspicuous consumption. I would, however, love to see the replica greens that were built for the beautiful people to play. I've heard those are pretty spectacular.


Mark King Named President Of Adidas North America

Don't know what this means if anything, I just hope he doesn't give up his task force gig because I have such high hopes for its findings.

For Immediate Release:

adidas Group appoints Mark King as President of adidas Group North America
adidas Golf Executive Vice President Ben Sharpe Named CEO of TaylorMade-adidas Golf
Carlsbad, Calif. (April 17, 2014) – The adidas Group has appointed TaylorMade-adidas Golf CEO Mark King as President of adidas Group North America effective June 1, 2014. In his new role, King will be in charge of all adidas and Reebok operations in the North American market.  Together with adidas Group CEO Herbert Hainer, King will continue overseeing the TaylorMade-adidas Golf business and will serve on an Advisory Board for the company.  Ben Sharpe, currently Executive Vice President of adidas Golf and Ashworth, will become the new CEO of TaylorMade–adidas Golf, reporting into Herbert Hainer.
“Mark King’s appointment underlines our clear commitment to the North American market-place”, says Herbert Hainer, CEO of the adidas Group. "Mark has a proven track record of success and leadership excellence. In turn, TaylorMade-adidas Golf is in best hands with Ben Sharpe who has been part of the successful TaylorMade leadership team since 2006. I am convinced that Ben will lead our golf business into the next era of growth.”
King started at TaylorMade in the early 1980s as sales representative. Under his leadership TaylorMade–adidas Golf has become the largest and most profitable golf company in the world, when King was appointed President in 1999 the business was $349 million (€327million) and has seen significant growth to $1.7 billion (€1.3 billion) in 2013. King has been named the industry executive of the year, former chairman of the National Golf Foundation, Founder of Hack Golf and most recently appointed to the PGA of America task force.  King will continue his involvement in Hack Golf and remain on the PGA of America task force.
Ben Sharpe (40) currently holds the position of Executive Vice President of adidas Golf and Ashworth. Prior to that role, Sharpe spent six years as TaylorMade-adidas Golf’s Managing Director in Europe, where his work doubled the company’s business and made it the largest and most successful golf company in the region. Sharpe is also an acclaimed athlete, having represented Great Britain at the Sydney 2000 Summer Olympic Games as a member of the country’s field hockey team.
“Ben’s business savvy, vision, charisma and competitive drive make him the right man to lead TaylorMade-adidas Golf into the future,” said King. “My role on the board will allow me to stay connected with the golf business while focusing my efforts on ensuring adidas Group reaches its full potential in North America.”


Historic Atlantic City Country Club Sold

Jennifer Bogdan reports that the historic Atlantic City Country Club has sold to the Ottinger family, with current owner Caesars Entertainment continuing a partnership with the new owners. Thanks to reader Martin for this.

Atlantic City has undergone various redos and restorations, but remains interesting and the place where birdie and eagle were coined.

The club, which spent more than 100 years as a members-only facility before opening to the public, has hosted six national championships, and a host of celebrities and legendary golfers have walked on the greens. Among them are Sam Snead, Walter Hagen, Arnold Palmer, Howard Everitt, Nancy Lopez and Jack Nicklaus.

The par 70 course that measures 6,577 yards and has a slope of 133, rose to prominence after local golf legend Leo Fraser purchased it in 1946. He was responsible for bringing the first PGA Senior Tour event to the club in 1980.

Caesars said the sale will benefit members of its Total Reward program, who will now have access to preferred tee times and discounted pricing at all three courses owned by the Ottinger family. Details of the discounts were not released Wednesday.


WTF: One Graduate Has Exactly One 2013-14 PGA Tour Start

Rex Hoggard says it's the players on the PAC who are asking questions about playing opportunities now, instead of PGA Tour brass coming to the PAC with instances like Benjamin Alvarado, has one PGA Tour start despite graduating at the Tour Finals (WTF).

From Hoggard's story:

“It’s an imperfect storm,” explained one PAC member, who asked for anonymity because players are advised not to discuss ongoing policy discussions.

At issue is a larger-than-normal number of Tour members playing on medical and career money exemptions and increased participation by higher-ranked players as a result of the new split-calendar schedule.

Let's focus on those medical and career exemptions. Those extra starts from high-ranked players haven't been noticed enough.


Tom Watson Now Not As Sure Tiger Is A Ryder Cup Lock

James Corrigan questioned Tom Watson's declaration last week that Tiger Woods would be on the Ryder Cup team no matter how few points he accrues in whatever starts he might make this year. Bob Harig wrote about the Watson guarantee here, which was lost in some of the pre-Masters hype.

So a nice catch by Corrigan who noticed Captain Watson softening this stance during a pre-RBC Heritage press conference where Watson is paired with Jordan Spieth Thursday.

From the transcript:

Q.  We can't stop thinking about the Ryder Cup.  If Tiger Woods only played in one more tournament the rest of the year, because of his injury, would you consider picking him?

TOM WATSON:  One more tournament?  I'm not going to answer that.  Tiger I hope just basically gets well and starts playing well again.  If he gets well and is playing well, I'll pick him.  But one more tournament, I don't know.  I can't answer that. 


15-Inch Cups Cut 45 Minutes Off Rounds?

Larry Olmsted summarizes the most salient points from Monday's HackGolf/TaylorMade event with Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose where the two were summed to promote 15-inch cups, 9-hole rounds and outside the box the six-course, name brand architect driven Ritz Carlton Reynold's Plantation.

This was fascinating:

Two weeks ago HackGolf debuted the new oversized holes for the first time at Southern California’s Pauma Valley Country Club, ands says that the new cups reduced the length of an 18-hole round from 4:30 to 3:45, while many golfers saw a 10-stroke improvement in scores.

I've putted to a big cup before and it's certainly a lot easier. In terms of skill, it's not much of test nor nearly as interesting. However, since no one seems to want to turn the clock back on slow greens, our silly, wasteful addiction will apparently go unabated.

So perhaps 15-inch cups have merit as a way to offset the pace impact of faster greens?



Finchem: Golf Really Grows A Lot Without Tiger, Too

Not Deputy Commissioner Tim Finchem was asked on Morning Drive from TPC Sawgrass about Tiger-less golf and he managed to even weave in a dreaded growth reference. Forget that it doesn't make much sense, just admire the ability to work in the mantra under the worst of circumstances.

Ryan Lavner reports.

“Last week at Augusta was a good indication,” he said, “of when Tiger is not in the field – because everyone wants to watch Tiger – it opens the door for exposure for other players.”

He cited runners-up Jonas Blixt and Jordan Spieth as examples.

“The attention that they got, the focus that they got, it helped build them into stars for the future. It really grows a lot without Tiger.

“I’d much rather have Tiger playing, don’t misunderstand me, but there is that benefit to creating stars, and creating stars is our future.”

Or the present?

It really grows a lot without Tiger? Tell that to CBS.

I'm going to give the Commish the benefit of the doubt on this one. He's still reeling from seeing Roger Goodell in green.


Players Moves To Three-Hole Playoff Format

A big improvement to The Players Championship, where playoffs had begun on the 17th, effective immediately. Garry Smits with the backstory and Finchem quotes.

And For Immediate Release:

THE PLAYERS Championship announces change to playoff format
Tournament will use three-hole, aggregate playoff instead of sudden death beginning this year

Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. – PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem has announced that beginning this year, in the event of a tie at THE PLAYERS Championship, there will be a three-hole, aggregate playoff as opposed to a sudden-death playoff to determine the champion.

The playoff holes will be 16-17-18, combining a player’s score on those three holes to decide the winner.  If the players remain tied after the aggregate playoff, the playoff reverts to sudden death starting on 17, followed by 18-16-17-18 and so on until a winner is determined.  This is the first time in tournament history that a three-hole playoff system will be used.


What To Do With Augusta National's Back Nine & Poll Results

Thanks for the 650 votes to date on the question about what hole would first get your design attention, and not surprisingly the 15th at Augusta National took the prize. A total of 16% of you would not touch anything on the back nine.

I thought about last week and while I couldn't think of any ways to improve the Masters fan experience, an indirect improvement would take place if three key areas were fixed architecturally. I write about those for My Easter gift to the Chairman.

As for the Ike's Tree situation, I wrote a feature story about that for this week's Golf World. You might be surprised by the suggested solution.


Bubba Wins The Masters: The Print Covers

It's always fun to see how great art director minds think alike when it comes to Masters covers, the one cover a year we really notice ( a typical year). The last time Bubba won proved that.

This week's Golfweek (Jason Lusk) and Golf World (Tim Carr) working with images by Andrew Reddington and Brian Snyder.


SBD: Buck & Norman To Helm Fox's U.S. Open Telecast

John Ourand of Sports Business Daily reports.

Neither has had a regular announce job in golf, though I'd be surprised if anyone is too worried about Buck's chances of doing anything but a stellar job. He's reportedly a low single-digit golfer and adapts to all sports he covers for Fox. Unfortunately, he's friends with USGA President Tom O'Toole so that'll get a little nauseating in year one, but he beyond that we'll be spared.

Now, the Shark...that's another story.

Norman has known of Fox's interest in him from early on, so early Fox might not have even had the contract. He will be glib and brings a big name, but having not won a USGA event or had ties to the U.S. Open like Johnny Miller, will he have the same cache?


Bubba's Next & Last Surprise Visit: Morning Drive

Only the Masters champion's agent was scheduled to come by Golf Channel Drive to map out a future Bubba visit with talent coordinator extraordinaire Courtney Holt. At around 4 am, producer Aaron Bearden had confirmed via phone that a typical Tuesday show was a go with coordinating producer Jeff Neubarth. Around the show's 7 am start in front of the studio, a rental car pulled up with Bubba Watson and agent Jens Beck arriving in Beck's rental. Moments later, Neubarth got the call from Holt to come in on his day off because Bubba was on Golf Channel property and wearing the Green Jacket.

Neubarth raced to the studio while Bubba hung out in the control room with the production team. He made no demands and just waited for the show to throw out their playbook, rearrange some chairs, pay a few bills and put a mike on the Masters champion. They sent him down the hall at 7:15.

"You always have to be ready in live TV," said Neubarth. "It's why we love our jobs."

Ryan Lavner summarizes the best insights from Bubba's multiple segments, including how he needed help putting on 18, the story behind his high-five fest en route to the scorecard signing, the reasoning for no further media tour beyond today's appearance on Morning Drive, his defense of Jordan Spieth's behavior Sunday and another reference to the inspiration he took from the Drive, Chip and Putt.

“This is an inspiration. The game of golf, it grew on Sunday. It grew when these kids were there. … It’s going to grow more when families get involved, when parents spend more time with their child (on the course). It’s going to grow y’all closer together. The game is frustrating, but they’re learning together.”

Here's his sit-down with Damon Hack and Kelly Tilghman (note neither has cards with questions or notes…confirmation this was spontaneous!).

The sitdown segment:

Talking Greenbrier, Drive-Chip-Putt and Bagdad.

The inevitable tears, induced by Rosaforte.

The gang talking to Bubba about a few more topics, including video shot of his son whapping a drive.


Masters Final Round Draws A 7.8, Down From 10.4

Awful Announcing summarizes the Tweets revealing the CBS final round ratings for the 2014 Masters, which they say hit a 10-year low. The 7.8 is down from a 10.4 last year and even from an 8.1 when Bubba Watson also won in 2012.

Ed Sherman says don't blame Tiger and Phil. I'm a bit shocked at some of the comments I've seen about the lack of a compelling cast. If Bubba fending off a huge mix of age groups, bonafide young guns Spieth and Fowler, along with the defending champion doesn't excite people, I'm not sure what leaderboard would. They only real fault lies in an excessive setup that stifled risk taking.

More interesting is this Classic TV Sports breakdown of the shots shown Sunday. Jordan Spieth led the way with 70, followed by Bubba at 68, Kuchar at58 and finished off by Lee Westwood at zero.


Epic: Poulter vs. Westwood Tweeting Incriminating Photos

Quite possibly the best Twitter duel ever is taking place between Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood, who each are unearthing and posting painful photos of the other during various fashion phases.

This was no doubt prompted by Poulter calling out Westwood last week for Lee's Masters outfit. And it's all in good fun.

Two favorites so far, though I recommend just going to their accounts linked above for a full rundown. Or someone will undoubtedly do one during a slow week:




Hardly A Shock: Tiger Not Looking Good For Pinehurst

Notah Begay went on CBS radio the day after the Masters and says he's spoken to his old Stanford pal. Unfortunately, Tiger Woods is unlikely for the U.S. Open at Pinehurst to continue his back surgery recuperation.

Mike Walker summarizes the Begay appearance.


Gary Player: Millions Saw "A Mockery" So Roll Back The Ball!

Gosh I love it when our elder speak.

From Gary Player's final 2014 Masters diary:

Here’s the thing though. Millions of people saw a man making a mockery out of Augusta National’s so-called par-5s on Sunday. When are the USGA, the R&A and the PGA going to have more vision and cut the ball back by 50 yards?

Whoa, 50! He's making us technophobes look downright conservative. We just want 10%!

When you see people hitting a driver and a wedge on No. 13, what are we doing? Where is the game going? The ball is going farther and we have lightweight shafts, metal heads, fairways cut like a flattop hairdo! I’m a great admirer of golf’s leaders, but they must realize that in 20-30 years time -- as better athletes start to play golf because it’s the only sport where you can make more money at 60 years old that when you were in your prime -- Bubba Watson will be a short hitter by comparison!


First Masters Poll...How Much Did Course Impact Sunday?

I know you all taped, recorded and watched my Morning Drive phone appearance today to hear Gary Williams, Damon Hack and I talk about the difficulty of the back nine. With no eagles Sunday on No. 15, no birdie on 17, and the 11th only yielding a couple of birdies, the back nine continues to be extremely difficult under Masters conditions. There is still a strong imbalance of risk and reward even with the likes of Bubba having a 360-yard drive in the arsenal.

Longtime readers know how I feel: the pines planted by Tom Fazio and Hootie Johnson down the right of the 11th and between the 15th and 17th holes, restrict freedom, clutter the grand scale of a beautiful property and blatantly disrespect the design vision of Mr. Jones and Dr. MacKenzie.

That said, with the Masters fresh in mind, I'm curious which hole stands out to you as most needing to be made more gettable, more fun, and less penal to help give the players a better chance of providing us a few more thrills.

What back nine hole most needs to be made more like it used to be? free polls 


Of Course Bubba Went To The Waffle House

What else is open on a Sunday night after you've had dinner with the club brass for a little tide-me-over?

Ryan Herrington with the breaking news report on Bubba's Waffle House visit post Green Jacket 2, Tweeted about by Bubba.


2014 Masters Clippings: Final Round Roundup

A few ledes to kick things off followed by what I could find after filing a feature and a blog post. Thanks for all the great comments and clicks this week. Another stellar Masters. That doesn't mean I won't be moaning this week about the silly pines. But for now, soak up another impressive Bubba Watson win and thorough coverage from a hard working gang in the media center.

Doug Ferguson, AP:

Bubba Watson's second Masters title was nothing like the green jacket he won two years ago.

David Westin, Augusta Chronicle:

Bubba Watson didn’t need a miracle shot from the pines in sudden death to win his second Mas­ters Tournament in three years. The only round in the 60s among the contenders Sunday was enough.

Steve DiMeglio, USA Today:

Bubba Watson will be the first to tell you he has issues, plenty of them, and he'll readily admit he's on the jittery side and self-diagnosed with attention deficit disorder.

Ron Sirak,

Bubba Watson has all the shots -- and more. Sometimes when you watch him on the range it seems as if he is genetically incapable of hitting a golf ball straight.

Bob Harig,

He swings out of his shoes with a pink-shafted driver, his golf ball traveling distances that are awed and admired. Bubba Golf, it is called, often with disbelief and wonder.

Bubba is The Grinch Who Stole The Masters. (Sobel/

Angie’s perspective. (Nichols/

The details behind the tournament turning on two shots, one by Spieth and one by Bubba. (Shackelford/

Only one media member picked Bubba in the Augusta Chronicle annual writers survey. Too bad he didn't place a wager when Bubba was 25-1, but then, he'd be admitting he's both a blogger and a degenerate. At least this will get him out of 23rd place in his fantasy league. (

Jordan Spieth “had it in his hands.” (Shedloski/

Spieth shows moxy and receives a priceless golf education. (Wojciechowski/

Jonas Blixt, Masters rookie and runner up. (Armour/USA Today)

Miguel Angel Jimenez had the best showing by a geezer since Sam Snead finished T3 in 1963. (Gay/

The Mechanic’s Augusta Chronicle slideshow. (

Rickie Fowler couldn’t overcome the orange, finishing T-5. (Coffin/

Rory McIlroy stunk up the par-5s but he also registered his best Masters finish yet at T8. (Armour/USA Today)

Caroline is a blond again. Almost. Except the part on top where she’s not. (AP/

Other celebrity sightings Sunday (

Bernhard Langer, 56, yippy, T-8. Just incredible. (Miceli/Golfweek)

Fred Couples, not as much but still impressive. (Maycock/

Adam Scott couldn’t putt. (Sobel/

Oliver Goss is your low am. (Hoggard/

There was one birdie on 17 Sunday. Chris Kirk called the green in that area purple. (Staats/

Birdies and Bogeys Sunday. (

Grading the players. (Collins/

The best of CBS’s broadcast and Poulter tweet (Strege/

Bubba’s gear. (Johnson/ video highlights. (

Bubba’s second jacket, highlight video for the week going back to last Sunday. (

Bubba’s press conference. (
Bubba’s Sunday conversation with ESPN's Tom Rinaldi. (

Final round photos. (

SI/ photos (


Bubba Wins Second Green Jacket, Your Kneejerk Reactions

As always de-emphasize the jerk and celebrate the display of skill by Bubba Watson who seemed destined to win since his win at Riviera in February.

That said, I'll be filing some items for the next couple of hours but I'd love to hear any and all thoughts on a strange Sunday that was thrilling on the front, a dud on the back. The course, CBS, Jordan, Jonas and of course, Bubba winning his second green jacket.